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The Carpenter’s Daughter

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He was always a good father. He came home before sundown and made presents for Christmas.

My five older brothers kept him busy throughout the year. They all helped in the woodshop. When I was five, I sat in the wood dust and played with the curls. One day I filled my hair with them.

“Look, Papa! I’m a princess!” Then spinning, I made the curls fly from my hair like the breath of a dandelion.

He laughed at me. “A little spinning top you are!” His forehead glistened with sweat acquired while sanding Mrs. Elson’s new cupboard.

I looked at him quizzically. “What’s a ‘top,’ Papa?”

“One day I will show you.”

The sparkle in his eye said it was true.

That Christmas underneath the tree a little cloth bag held a wooden spinning top. Unsure what to do, I handed it to my father who grasped it gently in his calloused hands. Suddenly with a flick of his wrist, he made the little toy spin and dance around the floor. They said I laughed hysterically until I, too, got up and spun with the top.

That was Grandmama’s last Christmas. She passed in the spring.

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The Hope Chest

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“Here you are,” she said. “Save this for your hope chest.” 

Aunt Valeria handed me a miniature silver spoon. I was five. 

Upon asking Mama what a hope chest was, she explained it’s a chest where you store things you hope to use someday. I used my silver spoon every day for imaginary tea parties, so what she said made no sense to me.

Every time I visited Great Aunt Valeria, she told me stories of all her suitors and how they wooed and pursued her, but to no avail. These stories entertained me for a few years until I noticed an ever-increasing exaggeration in the number of suitors and the machinations of their interest. Poor thing! She choked on an olive pit one day and died an old maid.

After the funeral, her attorney gave most the estate to charity. I didn’t miss her. She talked too much. Mama told Father surely Aunt Valeria intended to will more to her own family. The attorney’s charter school earned quite a high profile with the addition of the great house.

From what was left over, I received a traveling trunk and a set of bedsheets. While I thought longingly on her partridge feather hats, there was nothing to be done about the matter. At fifteen years old, what was I to do with a set of bedsheets?